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Traditional Knowledge, Genetic Resources, Customary Law and Intellectual Property

A Global Primer

Paul Kuruk

The book examines the national, regional and international frameworks of protection of traditional knowledge in all regions of the world. It also discusses options to enhance the existing legal regimes including the use of customary laws and protocols; the adoption of mutual recognition agreements premised on the principle of reciprocity; and the disclosure of source or country of origin of traditional knowledge in intellectual property applications.
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Chapter 10: Views from Oceania

Paul Kuruk


The chapter describes the framework of protection of traditional knowledge in Australia with reference to the concerns of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and the use of intellectual property and cultural heritage laws. It discusses the work of government commissions of enquiry, the latest of which examined the Native Title Act but declined to enquire into the protection of cultural knowledge under the legal system. The chapter notes in the case of New Zealand, the use of the Treaty of Waitangi as the reference point of claims to rights in traditional knowledge and illustrates significant reforms of the country’s intellectual property laws that demonstrate the government’s sensitivity to Maori concerns with regard to the protection of their culture. The chapter also surveys the provisions of the national intellectual property laws of the Pacific Island countries and their regional Model Law for the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Expressions of Culture.

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